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ACTION ALERT FROM RFA-NJ CHAPTER
"POTS OFF REEF" BILL IN SENATE COMMITTEE FEBRUARY 1

The Recreational Fishing Alliance New Jersey Chapter (RFA-NJ) is pleased to
announce that Senate Bill 221, which would prohibit the use of certain
fishing gear on artificial reefs (i.e. - "Pots off the Reefs"), is scheduled
to be heard by the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee on
Monday, February 1. Introduced by Sen. Sean T. Kean just two weeks ago and
co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Van Drew and Sen. Andrew R. Ciesla, S221 has the
full support of RFA-NJ.

"Similar legislation introduced in previous legislative sessions has passed
a full Senate vote on two occasions, but companion Assembly bills have yet
to be voted on by the full Assembly," said RFA-NJ Chairman Capt. Adam
Nowalsky, who is hoping to see a companion Assembly bill to S221 very soon.
"RFA-NJ is hopeful that both the Senate and Assembly bills will be voted on
during the current legislative session," Nowalsky added.

New Jersey's Artificial Reef system is one of the nation's most successful
reef building programs. Occupying just .3% of the sea floor off of New
Jersey's coast, a past state study revealed that 20% of New Jersey's
recreationally landed fish come from the state's 15 reefs. This fishing
effort provides a tremendous trickle-down economic effect in both shore and
inland communities as these anglers support marinas, boat liveries, bait and
tackle stores, fuel stations, restaurants, convenience stores, sporting
goods stores, toll highways, hotels/motels, real estate rentals, etc.

According to the state-approved 2005 Artificial Reef Plan, the intent of the
reef sites is for "hook-and-line" angling activities. For more than 20
years, the administration of the reef program has been funded by donations
from anglers and organizations throughout the state, in addition to
Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish (Wallop-Breaux) Restoration Funds. The Sport
Fish Restoration funds in particular are derived from an excise tax on
recreational fishing purchases, and as a "User Pay, User Benefit" program,
federal law requires that these funds be used to benefit recreational
fisheries. Violation is subject to repayment of funds, as corroborated by
New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Chanda in a May 22, 2008 memo
concerning this issue.

The majority of states that have artificial reef programs including New
York, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have identified traps as
non-compatible with their reef programs and no longer allow traps on their
reefs. Artificial reefs in federal waters for a number of those states have
also been classified as Special Management Zones (SMZ's), restricting the
use of traps on those sites.

The hearing is open to the public and will take place beginning at 10 a.m.
in Committee Room 10, 3rd Floor, State House Annex in Trenton, NJ.
Directions can be found at
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/directions.asp.


BLACK SEA BASS UPDATE

While attorneys for the RFA are still sifting through the recent federal
response to the black sea bass legal challenge issued in November after the
emergency closure of that important coastal fishery, the Mid-Atlantic
Fishery Management Council has asked the federal government to take
emergency action to increase the 2010 black sea bass catch in federal
waters, which range from three to 200 miles offshore. News reports show
better days may be in store for New Jersey wreck fishermen.

Learn more about the black sea bass issue by clicking through today's New
Jersey headlines below.

Asbury Park Press - The Battle For Sea Bass
(http://m.app.com/news.jsp?key=296658&rc=fb_sp)

Atlantic City Press - Fishery officials could increase black sea bass catch
for 2010
(http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/breaking/article_c0ea8fc0-0c8a-11df
-8eef-001cc4c002e0.html)


About Recreational Fishing Alliance & RFA-NJ
The RFA is a national, grassroots political action organization representing
recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine
fisheries issues. The RFA-NJ chapter mission is to safeguard the rights of
New Jersey's saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry
jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation's saltwater
fisheries.
For information, visit www.joinrfa.org.
 

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Even if you do not testify, show up and make out the form stating you are for the bill! I have spent vacation days testifying in favor of this bill already. I will be there on Monday again and again when it comes before the Assembly committee. Join me!
 
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